REALTORS® are some of the most civic-minded people I know. They serve as ambassadors to people moving to or investing in a region, and for the most part, take great pride in the area of the U.S. they call home. It benefits real estate agents to be involved in the betterment of their communities and surrounding areas.

This leads me to my unabashed plug for a non-profit entity near and dear to my heart, located here in Houston, the Clean City Commission, also known as Keep Houston Beautiful (KHB). KHB was founded in 1979 by commercial REALTOR® J. Howard Rambin, III, president and CEO of Moody Rambin. Rambin was frustrated by the way his city looked and would hear clients visiting Houston from out of town express their dismay at how our freeway greenspaces were covered with newspapers and other litter. He launched the successful KHB city cleanup initiative. KHB is a local Gold Star affiliate of Keep Texas Beautiful and a Presidential Circle Affiliate of the Keep America Beautiful program. The group’s mission statement is: We provide resources and education to engage citizens to take greater responsibility in building more beautiful communities.

I am proud to announce that I was recently appointed chairman of Keep Houston Beautiful, and with that honor I feel a certain amount of responsibility to let HAR members know what this program is all about and how they and their brokerages can get involved in making Houston a cleaner and greener city.

First, a little background information on KHB. The non-profit derives some funds from the City of Houston’s annual budget and from the Department of Neighborhoods. KHB pays approved vendors that mow vacant lots in areas around town and is reimbursed by the City’s Department of Neighborhoods. KHB also applies for grants and other funding and was recently awarded a prestigious Governor’s Community Achievement Award (GCAA) which 10 Texas communities with the best grassroots environmental programs in the state receive each year. KHB received a $310,000 prize from Keep Texas Beautiful, in partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT). The funds will be used for a landscaping project along a local right-of-way in the near future.

Other partners integral to KHB’s success include City Council members, Houston Parks and Recreation Department, Houston Police Department, Mayor’s Citizens Assistance Office, Public Works and Engineering, Harris County, Solid Waste Management, Planning and Development Department and, of course, the wonderful volunteers and KHB Executive Director Robin Blut and her small but mighty staff!

The main areas of focus for Keep Houston Beautiful include:

  • litter reduction
  • beautification
  • recycling
  • education
  • recognition

In regards to recognition each year, Keep Houston Beautiful celebrates the efforts made by individuals, businesses, civic organizations, government agencies and schools that have volunteered to improve Houston’s landscape through environmental and beautification projects at the Mayor’s Proud Partners Luncheon which, this year, is set for October 26, 2015.

You may not realize that many organizations are involved in hundreds of cleanup projects each year and can borrow much of the equipment needed through the Keep Houston Beautiful tool shed.

In 2013, KHB loaned tools to support 415 cleanup and beautification projects throughout the city; worked with over 15,780 volunteers, who gave their time back to their communities, contributing over 68,000 hours of service and $1.6 million in benefits, removed an estimated 840,000 pounds (420 tons) of trash and debris from Houston neighborhoods and public spaces; cleared 42 illegal dump sites; cleaned out more than 77 vacant lots and 135 ditches; disposed of over 530 discarded tires; mowed 1,726 overgrown vacant lots; cleaned and beautified 52 parks; and, planted over 5,770 trees and shrubs.

This is a great cause for you as a volunteer or your real estate brokerage as an organization to get involved with to make Houston a better place to live and work. On the KHB website,, you’ll find a volunteer signup sheet, a complete handbook on how to organize a cleanup project and a form to complete if you want to borrow tools from the KHB tool shed. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me personally at

Together, we can make Houston an even better place to live!